Preptober is here and that means we are now on a thirty-one-day countdown to NaNoWriMo 2020. If you were someone thinking, “Quarantine will give me all the time I need to write a novel,” only to…not do it, allow me to recommend the mind numbing race to fifty-thousand words that is National Novel Writing Month.
But first: Preptober.
I might have been looking forward to this month even more than November–not just because it is Officially Spooky Season but also because I like planning and scheduling, note taking and productively procrastinating. And that is what Preptober is all about. For the past few days, I’ve even been planning for Preptober, making a To Do list of ways I want to get ready for NaNoWriMo. Some items might be silly (create a survival kit; make a novel playlist/soundtrack) and some are pretty reasonable (write an outline; figure out my November schedule), but my fingertips are itching at the thought of each one of them.
Let’s hash them out, shall we?
Preptober 2020 To Do
Write character bios // I love writing character biographies and taking the opportunity to flesh out a character before actually committing them to a page. I never quite get past the main character or two before starting to write, but I feel like this time around I want to really understand my side characters just as much as my MC. And any reference I can create for myself as I go along is going to prove useful. (I’m imagining something along the lines of the “show bible,” if you listen to the Office Ladies podcast.)
Fill out NaNoWriMo website profile + create project // Nothing too strenuous here; just updating my NaNoWriMo profile (I even changed my username), creating my project on the site, and then having a little fun with Pinterest and Spotify. I’ve dabbled in mood boards and playlists/soundtracks for novels, but I’m really committing to the idea this year. In between the more “serious” Preptober activities, I need to be sure to throw in a little fun here and there.
Plan milestone rewards // We can all agree that motivation is good, and what’s more motivating than finishing a novel? Treating yourself along the way. I’m thinking small things as I reach certain word count milestones, i.e., a new book at the halfway mark, and then something a little bigger and more exciting upon completion. I’m not sure what that big reward will be, but I’m already kind of excited about it.
Meal prep // I already tend to (try to) plan weekly meals on Sundays, even if I cook them throughout the week. My goal here is to go a little bigger and plan all, or most, of November’s meals early on, even making some to freeze beforehand so they can be easily heated up in the oven by Dan or myself while I get writing in. I spend most of the day with Finn, aside from nap time, and I’m pretty sure he’s getting more active each day, so I’m already thinking most of my writing will get done after Dan is done work for the day, which brings me to my next point…
Figure out (and/or clear) November schedule // I try to write appointments and events on our kitchen calendar far in advance if I can remember, so I’m hoping this will help make this to do item relatively quick. If there’s nothing on the calendar already, then I’m hoping to avoid adding much, if anything, for the month.
Create a daily writing schedule/ritual // My days are, generally, predictable, so this shouldn’t be too much of a challenge. The rough idea right now is to set aside about two hours at the end of the day to get writing in. This might be after Finn goes to bed (so between about 7:30 and 9:30) or I might give Dan and Finn some guy time in the afternoons (between 5 and 7). Honestly, I might even rotate between the two. It’s a work in progress. I do know that I’ll be selecting myself a special writing candle that I’ll burn as I work because why the hell not?
Write a novel outline // Possibly my favorite part, and if I’m honest, one that I’ve already started in earnest. I’m planning on working on the novel I started earlier this year, around May or June, and October is going to be a time for tightening up the outline I’ve already made. The first version was written in the three-act story structure outline style, which I love. However, I also finished reading Save the Cat! Writes a Novel recently and am enamored with the beat sheet, so I intend to combine the two to come up with a really solid outline to move into November with.
Create a survival kit // Snacks. Hydration. Ambiance (see the aforementioned candle). Simple things that, I think, will make a world of difference when the time comes.
Plan how to save/back up files // I think we can all agree that this is the most important on the list. You can go into November completely blind–no NaNoWriMo account, no outline, nothing. But to go in without some way to save your work? That’s just foolish. One of my biggest fears–at least as a writer–is losing any of the work I hold dear and/or have put a lot of time and effort into, so I’m thinking of having multiple backup approaches.
This is far from my first year doing NaNoWriMo, but it is the first in which I’m taking advantage of Preptober and going hardcore Planner. Other years I’ve done a combination of approaches, and my most successful are always the ones with at least some planning done. (All of my Pantser years have been Epic Fails.) I think, if I really put the effort into Preptober, I can take a lot of the pressure off of myself in November to maybe, just maybe, get myself another win in the…books. (Ugh. Yeah. I said that.)
Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? If so, how are you preparing?